Thursday, June 28, 2012

Long-awaited details about stuff and junk

I know I know, but let me explain!

First: It's hard when you're no longer planning a wedding to write about cool stuff because I'm not doing cool stuff anymore. Meaning I'm not doing anymore awesome projects or freaking out about any more deadlines.

Second: Our lab is moving, I'm not moving with it, so I had to pack up my stuff and prepare for my lying in at home with my computer and my gestating thesis. It's not quite quickened yet, but my committee is ready, and my defense is set for August 6th, so I have to get my midwifing on (are you guys liking my Elizabethan birthing references? They make me giggle.)

Third: The house has little things here and there that still aren't 100% where we want them to be. Have a look see:
Now, as a disclaimer, most if not all of these boxes are either half empty already or they're just waiting to be transported to their final resting place (the four boxes/crates in the back by the door are Christmas decorations and costume stuff). Yeah, also there's a hamper there, and video games that just need to go upstairs, a TV that just doesn't have a stand yet, etc... But it does get frustrating sometimes, Kyle feels there should be no more boxes! I'm learning to ignore him ;) Either way, even today I was still arranging our bookshelves some more, so I just take it a day at a time.

We are starting to get into a pretty good routine. Our computers are finally set up the way we want them, which is the last reason I hadn't done a post in awhile, I had a computer sitting in a box, it's now on a desk, check it!
This computer stuff is right up against all the clutter, so it's a thin line between progress and insanity right now. Order and Chaos.

Also, It's more fun to sit on the couch watching old reruns of The New Adventures of Old Christine when your puppy is playing footsy with you:

It tickled!

Anyway, who cares right? I'm here now! Yay!

Last time I posted, I wanted so badly to make summer strawberry pudding; a recipe I got from Alton:
So I did, I macerated my strawberries, which I talked about last time, and which were awesome as strawberry shortcakes once I actually made the whipped cream (they weren't bad with greek yogurt, just a bit too sour, stick with the really-bad-for-you-but-awesome whipped heavy cream). Anyway, I set out to make this pudding:
You need four standard tin cans, tops and bottoms removed, a loaf of potato bread, and a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Oh, butter the bottom piece of potato bread.
You waste A LOT of potato bread. Anyway, I put the buttered bread rounds on the bottom, butter side up, then put some strawberries plus juice on top, then layered another round of bread, more strawberries, etc...
 Looks so pretty, right?? And so so easy!

After the last piece of bread, put the lids back on top of the pudding, and weight with four smaller cans, soda cans are what Alton suggests, but I discovered that tomato soup cans are actually perfectly sized!

Let this set in your fridge for at least 8 hours, the pectin from the strawberries makes the whole thing gel together!
Look how pretty!!! I forgot to take a picture of one with whipped cream on it, but, yeah, put whipped cream on it. OK, so that was the fun part right? Ready for the not so awesome part? It was super sour! I was so disappointed. Maybe I picked a bad wine, maybe I let it set too long (I did it overnight), maybe there was too much air to it and the wine fermented, maybe strawberries and tin equals ick... I have no idea, please don't let my negative experience sway you from trying, but I had half a mind to write to Alton and ask what gives, because I was super super excited to eat this and I couldn't even get through more than a couple bites :( And Kyle was going to suffer through it for me too, and he wouldn't say it was bad until I said it was bad (and then he apologized a bunch of times... he's such a sport and a sweetie!).

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on it, it was a big disappointment, that's the last I'll say. So let's move on to cooler stuff. Last I'll report on today is that we finally got the house looking presentable enough for me to show you some pictures! There are still a few things laying around, please don't judge, but for the most part, come on in!
As you walk in the front door, this is our living room, complete with new coffee table and sofa and loveseat. The shelf is our DVD shelf, I just filled that up a few days ago because we just rearranged our furniture to fit it in a few days ago. Here's a better look at the furniture from the other side of the room:
There are doors to kitchen and dining room as well as stairs to the upper level, but since this picture is taken standing in the opening of the dining room, we'll go there next, just turn around:
Besides the boxes on the left that need to be recycled and the boxes on the right that need to be put away, I'm super happy with our little dining room. We have those great french doors and I've got all my cookbooks and entertaining stuff on the rack on the left and pots and pans on the rack on the right. I like the set up a lot. We're totally almost there to being totally domesticated!
Our kitchen/dining room is all nice and open, which makes the kitchen feel bigger, which is necessary because it's not a huge kitchen. But it's awesome and I'm so happy with it, from my dishwasher that makes life 50 million times easier to the hood which is an actual working hood to my oven that cooks stuff fast without heating the whole house, to the window over the sink, which I just don't think anyone should ever have to live without.

Anyway, I'll gush more later, that doorway leads down to the lower level of the house wherein lies my pride and joy; the library:
Our old couch sits in this cozy, low-ceilinged room on the lower level with our books. ALL our books:
This is such a cozy cozy place. Soft light (it only looks blaring because my cell phone camera is no professional camera), you're away from the rest of the house and confined by the low ceilings. I love it, I read and nap here all the time. There's even a door separating this room from the rest of the downstairs where the other bonus rooms are (including the computer room). Lastly, if you go back upstairs and then up the stairs from the entrance, you'll get to the top floor, where the bedrooms are. There are four bedrooms but the only one worth a damn is the one with our new bedroom furniture in it:
I'm in a weird corner here, but there's our dresser and chest of drawers, brand new from Bassett. That door leads to our master bath. If you go to another weird corner, the closed door is the door entering the bedroom, and the open door is the door to our walk-in closet. And of course this is our new platform bed and night stands:
So that's where the magic happens. Haha! Just kidding, I mean, gross. OK, well that's my cue. I could ramble on and on, but my back hurts from the odd angle of my desk and chair, and I've got other important stuff to do today! I hope the mass of pictures today makes up for my long absences a little. As I mentioned before, I've got to get lots and lots of work done on my thesis, so I will continue to be sporadic, but thanks to everyone who keeps sticking around!

Friday, June 15, 2012


As promised, I remembered my bloggista manners and actually took pictures as I dealt with some strawberries yesterday! Huzzah!!

So, as I mentioned in my last post, Kyle and I went strawberry picking last weekend, which I was really thankful for because I knew he'd be stressed and not really in the mood to do anything fun because he's been doing so much not-fun stuff lately; getting his Jeep fixed, paying lots of bills, getting the house moved into, taking care of the yard, etc... But with very very little pushing, I convinced him that he should relax and do something fun... that was until strawberry picking day dawned a balmy 90 degrees. We went anyway, armed with water battles and with promises of ice cream right after.

We picked 16 pounds of strawberries, ya'll!!!! Strawberries are heavy, it didn't seem like 16 pounds, but that's how much two baskets weigh. By the way, I don't even know where my camera is to have taken pictures at the orchard, sorry. Here's some other people at the farm we went to having fun:
So this is Shady Brook Farm!
 There's lots of stuff to do there, and they're huge on kid stuff, there's stuff for kids all the time!
And of course, there's lots of strawberry fields. They also have pick your own apples, blueberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, peaches, pumpkins, raspberries, tomatoes and watermelon. They also make their own wine and have all sorts of herbs and cheeses and a market with a deli and an ice cream shop. It's pretty awesome there, but not so great on a 90 degree day with no wind. Nonetheless, like I said, it was still a successful day because we walked out of there in a little over an hour with 16 pounds of strawberries.

So anyway, I've frozen about 2/3 of the strawberries, because it's just too many to eat fresh. Kind of sad, but I'll probably make stuff out of the frozen ones anyway. I didn't have dry ice like Alton Brown suggests, but I do have a FoodSaver, so hopefully they will thaw relatively well. Speaking of Alton, it's his inspiration I used to make a tasty concoction with the remaining 1/3 of the strawberries:
I macerated the strawberries so they could be used in any number of applications. Macerated strawberries is easy, watch the video. I made it a lot harder on myself by losing my wine opener kit. So I used the ole' push the cork all the way through method... it didn't go well:
Wayta' go!! I also got it all over myself and the counter and the floor, but the ceiling was the best. It put me in mind immediately of Eddie Murphy and Daddy Day Care, when he takes the kid to the bathroom and the kid says "I missed!" which is exactly what I'm going to tell Kyle to break the tension.

AnyWAY! Wine is breathing, break out the software:
Strawberries of course! And as Alton recommends, I did NOT go out and buy a strawberry huller, I used my trusty dusty star tip from my piping kit:
It is an excellent alternative and does not damage the rest of the berry, but if you have squishy berries, you might squish them while trying to insert the tip and twist it. I had mostly firm ones, so... not to brag or anything...

Moving on, the recipe for the macerated strawberries is just the strawberries (pretty much however many can fit in the container you're using, red wine (acid to stop the strawberry flesh from consuming itself), honey (you know what that's for), and lemon zest.
Alton didn't tell me this, but I think that a sweeter red works best, because you don't want it too dry or tannic, then you'll only taste dry red wine, and your berries will be oaky instead of crisp, but what do I know?

Moving on again, I do NOT, however, own an egg slicer. I don't think they exist anymore... Who uses an egg slicer still?! Don't anyone answer that. I sliced every single one of those strawberries (there was also another tray that I didn't take a picture of) by hand:
(I got really bored, but I pressed on!) Then you just put the strawberries in a container with the wine and the honey and lemon zest... Alton also says pepper, I have nothing against pepper but I completely forgot it. All in all, I used all the wine and filled two half gallon containers with macerated strawberries. Phew.
It took me about two hours, all said and done, and I made one hell of a mess. But then I did a little dance because I have a garbage disposal now! Yippee!!
So, after all that, I went to bed, but when I got up the next morning, I instantly thought that I must do something with those strawberries, it would be a travesty not to! Of course, what's the best dessert/breakfast involving strawberries?! Why the short cake of the berry straw, of course! I had Bisquick! I made biscuits! I had shortcake!!
Beautiful yes?! So the only mistake I made was that I had heavy cream but I thought that it would be a healthy alternative to use Greek yogurt instead of whipped cream. It was a bad idea, it actually made the whole thing too sour. The berries in wine is already a little sour, don't make it worse for yourself. I had good intentions but I'll be sticking with some sweetened, whipped cream next time. Other than that, anyone that knows me knows that I hate fruit on bread or fruit in my jello or fruit on anything basically. I eat food as it is, and I eat fruit as it is, I don't usually like to mix fruit with anything... ANYTHING!! But this was awesome, I ate it all. None for you.

And Alton goes on to explain my next recipe, which I cannot wait to try:
But I'm visiting family this weekend, so hopefully I will be able to make strawberry summer pudding when I get back home! Also when I get back home, I'll take pictures of the new furniture too, promise, and thank you Lara Ann for reminding me that I didn't give credit where credit was due! Our furniture is from Bassett. Next, I need to find a rug for the living room... thus begins the new saga.

If anyone has any strawberry recipes for me to try, send them along!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Adventures in Homeowning

I will start by apologizing for what is no doubt going to be a wordy post. But it's been awhile and I don't have many pictures. I'll try to make it worth your while.

A week ago, started living in our new house! Last Tuesday, we were surprised by a knock on our townhouse door and Kyle's bestest buddy, Dan, had driven to Philadelphia from Baltimore to help us move! It was just about the sweetest thing anyone (who isn't related to us and therefore obligated in some way) had ever done for us. He had taken off the whole week to help us move. So he helped us finish our packing, load the truck on Wednesday, go to settlement and move in on Thursday, and cut the grass on Friday!

I could go on about how awesome that was, but like I said, I'm trying to not be TOO wordy. He was a life saver! He was a better truck organizer than I would have been, and he and Kyle communicated better moving stuff up and down stairs. So remarkably, he also made the whole process more peaceful, because I would not have wanted to make the days even worse by bickering with Kyle.

So since then, we've just been slowly moving in. Kitchen was first, and it felt really really good organizing a nice kitchen, especially with all the new wedding gifts that we didn't allow ourselves to open at the townhouse because we would have just had to pack them right back up.

I already burned my first dinner! It was just frozen pizza; I've cooked with natural gas all my life, and now we have an electric oven and stove... in my defense, it's a really really good oven and it cooked the pizza a lot faster than I expected! So I set the smoke detector off within the first few days of moving in!

Anyway, back to moving, I was really discouraged for awhile:
But we're already powering through and so there's only a few miscellaneous boxes left. Also burdensom has been the amount of trash, broken boxes, and allllll that packing paper for fragile things. But enough about that, on Wednesday, we had FiOS installed (yay!! we've wanted it for years but it wasn't available in the city) and today I'm waiting for lots of furniture to be delivered!
New bed, bed frame, nightstands, dresser, chest of drawers, and sofa, loveseat, coffee table, and end table for the living room. Whew. That's why I haven't taken any pictures of the house yet, it doesn't seem to have any stuff in it!

My mom came to visit over the weekend; no one from my family had seen the house in person yet, so I was really happy she could come, and we just hung out for awhile and got Five Guys. Thanks, Mama!

Kyle and I also spent more time than we'd like to admit watching our new front-loading washing machine going around in circles... it's super exciting. Tonight, Kyle's mom is coming to visit and bring our puppy to her new home. I might be more excited for her than for us, she's been forced to do her business in a very small, overgrown yard for her whole life.

Other than that, the new house is kinda' paradise; we have pretty butterflies and birds in the morning, bunnies in the afternoon, and bats at night (don't knock 'em! I haven't been bit by a mosquito yet!). My commute to work is awful now, but since I'm almost done, I don't have to make the drive too many more times. I've also started playing with some new toys:
Say hello to my little friend! I got a Ninja!! These little things are badass! Go get one. I had berries frozen in the freezer, vanilla greek yogurt, and some chocolate syrup, and the Ninja made short work of it.
MMMMMMmmmmmmmm!! Healthy, and awesome. I'm not a huge fan of the gigantic seeds, but it was so good and so quick and easy to make, I overlooked them as I scarfed this down. Oh, and look forward to strawberry recipes; we're going strawberry picking this weekend!! Yay!!! I love strawberries!! I love strawberry picking!!! I'M SO EXCITED!!

So, the furniture guys should be here soon, and I've gone on long enough anyway. With thesis writing and home making, I'll be sporadic, but I promise I won't abandon you!!